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Tanzania

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Chaos in the aftermath of a church
bombing in Arusha

Christians and Muslims in Tanzania have traditionally lived together in peace, and they continue to do so in many parts of the country. But the president has said that for the first time Tanzania is facing the prospect of civil strife and division on religious lines. The past two years have seen heightened tensions, sometimes centred on the issue of animal slaughter. Muslims have attacked Christians for slaughtering and selling meat that is not halal (that is, killed according to Islamic sharia).

Church leaders are particularly liable to suffer violence. In 2013, one leader was beheaded, another shot dead, and a youth leader hacked to death, and there were machete attacks on pastors in their homes. Acid was thrown at another leader in Zanzibar. Some pastors have had to flee because of the threat to their lives. There has also been an increase in the number of attacks on churches and their buildings; for example, five people were killed and around 60 wounded when a new church building in Arusha was bombed during its inaugural service in May 2013. (Responsibility for some of these attacks is still unclear.)

Christians make up over 50% of the population of Tanzania, and the government safeguards religious freedom. The conditions on the semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar, however, are very different. Islamists on Zanzibar, which is 98% Muslim, are pressing for independence from mainland Tanzania and for sharia to be applied to all the islands’ legislation. Violent attacks by Islamists on Zanzibar are becoming more frequent as tensions heighten.

The role of sharia is also being debated on the mainland. Many key posts across the country in politics, the judiciary and the security services are held by Muslims, and one senior Christian leader has said that the country could be totally Islamised in five to ten years if the Church does not make a decisive response to the threat of Islamism.

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christian, persecution, charity, church, persecuted, sookhdeo, Islam

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    • Pray for a Christian family in Kandhamal in Orissa state, India, who have been left devastated after their home was destroyed for the third time by Hindu extremists. The Digals of Budruka village were among hundreds of Christian families to lose their home in the horrendous anti-Christian violence of December 2007. They returned two months later and rebuilt their house, but in August 2008 the attacks resumed, and their second home was also destroyed. After receiving financial aid from the government they were able to rebuild it again this year, but in April it was wrecked once more, shattering their hopes of returning to their village to cultivate their land. Pray that the Lord will comfort them in their distress and provide them with a peaceful dwelling-place and secure home (Isaiah 32:18). Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed 11 hours ago

    • The landslide victory of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India’s general election in May sparked alarm for Christians and other minorities in the country. The BJP is the political wing of a Hindu nationalist movement, Hindutva, which is striving to make India a religiously pure nation. It has given support to Hindu extremist groups that attack Christians, and states under the party’s rule have generally experienced a rise in anti-Christian violence. The BJP has introduced “anti-conversion” laws in a number of states, which are used to prevent legitimate Christian evangelism. Prior to the general election, the BJP pledged to introduce national legislation to curb “missionary” activity and end proselytising if elected. Pray that the BJP will rule justly and that the rights and freedoms of all Indian citizens will be upheld. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Sat, Sep 2014 00:00

    • Pray for Christians in Sri Lanka facing attacks from Buddhist extremists, who have forced the closure of numerous churches. In an apparently positive move, the government has created a Religious Disputes Unit to address conflicts between different groups and combat attempts to create religious discord. But many Christians and Muslims believe that Buddhist extremists are allowed to operate with impunity and that the new unit will not solve the problems faced by non-Buddhists. A cap on the building of places of worship has also been announced, and this seems to serve the Buddhist lobby, which is opposed to expanding Christian activity. Pray for protection for Christian congregations and that their ministry and mission will not be further impeded. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Fri, Sep 2014 00:00

    • Cry out to the Lord for Alexis Prem Kumar, a 47-year-old Christian minister from India who was abducted in Afghanistan on 2 June. No group has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, but three Taliban militants have been arrested in connection with it. Alexis had worked for an NGO in Afghanistan since 2011, helping returning refugees. He was leaving a school near Herat for Afghan children who have recently returned from Iran or Pakistan when he was seized. Give thanks for Alexis’ willingness to serve the Lord in what remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world for Christians, and pray for his safe return. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Thu, Sep 2014 00:00

    • The case of an Egyptian Christian man arrested following complaints by Muslim neighbours that he had been using his home as a church without a permit highlights the need of the Christian community for more places of worship. The 55-year-old man from Minya in Upper Egypt, where Christians are particularly vulnerable to persecution, was arrested once before, in 2011, for the same offence. Every church building in Egypt requires a permit, but these are notoriously difficult to obtain. Pray that the authorities will show leniency to the Christian man and that a provision in the new constitution addressing the issue of church buildings will be enacted. Subscribe to the prayer points rss feed Tue, Sep 2014 00:00

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